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CalAttorney2, Attorney
Category: CA Real Estate
Satisfied Customers: 10244
Experience:  I have experience representing HOAs, homeowners, businesses, and other individuals in real estate matters.
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We have a beautiful home in prestigious Rivermark area in

Customer Question

We have a beautiful home in prestigious Rivermark area in Santa Clara,CA. Our tenant gave us early termination notice and left the premises last week. She had a pet dog. When we entered the home, there was a severe smell of cigarette smoke. We tried everything
but the smell does not go away. We had a no smoking ckause in the lease. I would like to sue our tenant as her security deposit won't cover the cost of repair. Please provide your valuable guidance
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: CA Real Estate
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 2 years ago.

I am sorry to learn of this unfortunate situation.

You still will need to do a security deposit itemization in order to keep the security deposit (see: for assistance).

With the itemization, you can send a bill for damages to recover the cost of professional cleaning (and/or painting if required) to remediate the unit.

If the tenant does not pay, you can then sue (small claims in California covers amounts in dispute up to $10,000.00). The Courts have a self help page that will give you all of the information (plus forms) that you will need to prosecute your claim, and collect on your judgment:

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
I am aware of the itemized statement. In spite of causing all these problems, our tenant is accusing us to go to small claims if we do not return the security deposit. Can we sue her before she sues us ? She has breached the agreement by smoking in our home
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 2 years ago.

You need to send the statement within 30 days. If you do not, the tenant can sue you (and win the security deposit back - you can still sue for damages, but you will lose the security deposit remedy).

You can sue her right away if you like, but it is more common to send a bill for the amount of damages at issue first. If your interest is in having the minor procedural advantage in being the plaintiff - then yes, file your suit right away (but even if you are filing suit, you still must comply with the security deposit procedure to keep that money).